I’m breaking my promise to stop writing about politics, but I’ll be very brief. Please take a minute to read this story, which aired today on CBS Sunday Morning.
This is exactly what I was talking about in my last post. A moderate Republican congressman proposes a budget that would “slash spending and raise taxes,” which is what pretty much everyone knows needs to be done. He gets 100 co-sponsors, but in the end his plan gets a whopping 38 votes and he decides to quit.
Note what caused his co-sponsors and supporters to peel away. It wasn’t fear of losing financial backing. It was “a flood of phone calls, emails and faxes” opposing the plan. Those may be stirred up by partisan interests on the furthest left and right, but the ones doing the dialing are known as “constituents,” which also means “voters.”
This is how it works. Moderate Democrats, if any exist, realize that if they vote for anything that contains spending cuts, the extreme left will brand them as callous self-aggrandizers who want seniors to starve. Moderate Republicans, again if any exist, realize that if they vote for anything that includes a tax increase, the extreme right will brand them as tax-and-spend liberals. In either case, the odds of re-election go way down, so they back off.
This is the problem caught in still frame. The issue is neither “Big Money” nor “Bad Congressmen.” It is a natural reaction to market forces.
The key player here is an electorate that is profoundly uninformed, easily manipulated and either unwilling or unable to do anything about it. My friend Bill asks what we can do about this. My only thought is to inundate our representatives with phone calls, emails and faxes saying, “If you DON’T vote for this, you’re out on your ass!”
Also, my friend an former colleague Colston Young has started an entity called Big Middle Alliance to see if a platform can be created that would enable the broad, rational center to be better heard. It will be interesting to see what he finds.